“The new man commanded an instant respect. His players could see from the start that Wooden knew the game and put a great deal of though into organizing his practices. To him, it was no different than putting together a lesson plan for a high school English class. It was the teacher’s job to show up early and be ready to work. He came to practice in his athletic gear and black shoes, and he constantly referred to his three-by-five inch index cards as he presided over the workouts.
Wooden’s experience as a player was invaluable. He had seen what this proves from that point of view, and he knew just how hard to push without stretching them past their limits. He kept his drills mostly to five-to-ten minute increments, alternating between difficult and less difficult drills to keep the workout from becoming mundane. “He had those drills down to a precise point. Just at the point where you felt like you weren’t going to be able to make it another length of the floor, he would change the drill,” said Paul Sanders, a sophomore forward on that first team.
His instructions were highly specific. He taught them precisely how to pivot, pass, catch, dribble, and shoot. He showed them how to watch the ball into their hands when receiving a pass. A shot was to be taken with a flick off the nose. When they ran through his fast break drill, the dribbler always stopped at a forty-five degree angle. When the pass was made, the players had the option of finishing a layup or pulling up for a shot, but they were always- always- to use the backboard. Wooden learned many of these details from Piggy Lambert, but the specifics of what he taught weren’t important. What mattered was how well he taught them.”
- Excerpt by Seth Davis in Wooden: A Coach's Life
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